Losing Earth

Losing Earth

A Recent History

Book - 2019
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By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change--including how to stop it. Over the next decade, a handful of scientists, politicians, and strategists, led by two unlikely heroes, risked their careers in a desperate, escalating campaign to convince the world to act before it was too late. Losing Earth is their story, and ours.

The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to Nathaniel Rich's groundbreaking chronicle of that decade, which became an instant journalistic phenomenon--the subject of news coverage, editorials, and conversations all over the world. In its emphasis on the lives of the people who grappled with the great existential threat of our age, it made vivid the moral dimensions of our shared plight.

Now expanded into book form, Losing Earth tells the human story of climate change in even richer, more intimate terms. It reveals, in previously unreported detail, the birth of climate denialism and the genesis of the fossil fuel industry's coordinated effort to thwart climate policy through misinformation propaganda and political influence. The book carries the story into the present day, wrestling with the long shadow of our past failures and asking crucial questions about how we make sense of our past, our future, and ourselves.

Like John Hersey's Hiroshima and Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth , Losing Earth is the rarest of achievements: a riveting work of dramatic history that articulates a moral framework for understanding how we got here, and how we must go forward.

Publisher: New York : MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374191337
Branch Call Number: 363.7387 RICH N
Characteristics: x, 206 pages ; 22 cm
x, 206 pages ; 21 cm


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Dec 07, 2019

The last 10-15 pages of the book neatly sum up the current state of affairs. A sad tale of purchased politicians, greedy big oil, and no doubt the international banking cartels hiding behind the potted plants. A small book worth the read.

May 20, 2019

Mostly it is a history of the environmental movement from it's beginnings. There are no solutions offered.

May 05, 2019

This book made me cry. It's a devastating chronicle of how much bipartisan, public, and even oil and gas company support there was in the 60s and 70s to take strong action to reduce carbon emissions. Everybody understood that the science was clear and the threat was urgent, with serious repercussions expected by the 2010s or sooner. There have been no scientific breakthroughs since then - the data has just gotten stronger and stronger. Countries all over the world were ready to take action, just waiting for the US to lead.

What the heck happened? Bureaucracy, competing priorities, political distractions, economic concerns, business as usual. Yes, Carter put solar panels on the White House, but he also poured federal money into developing the process that created fracking and tar sands. By 1989, when the political will vanished with the arrival in Dick Cheney in the White House, the American Petroleum Institute, and especially Exxon-Mobil, got the idea to spend a fortune to change the conversation to the familiar the-science-isn't-settled mantra. Then as Rich puts it in his damning finale, they went even further: "They pushed the even wilder claim: that the FUNDAMENTAL SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE (Rich's emphasis), established in the 19th century, ratified by a (huge government study) in 1979 and confirmed by every major study since, WAS ITSELF UNCERTAIN - a rhetorical feint akin to a historian who turns from arguing that slavery was not the primary cause of the Civil War to arguing that slavery did not exist."

Yes, they were evil and, as Rich asserts, deserve to be tried for crimes against humanity. The heartbreaking truth of this book is that we were all guilty of dropping the ball - politicians, the media, environmental groups, and every one of us who chose not to think about it.


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May 22, 2019

"Everyone knew---- and we all still know. We know that the transformations of our planet, which will come gradually and suddenly, will reconfigure the world political order. We know that if we don't sharply reduce emissions we risk the collapse of civilization.............We also know that the coming changes will be worse for our children, worse yet for their children, and even worse still for their children's children, whose lives, our actions have demonstrated, mean nothing to us." pg 191

May 22, 2019

"Nevertheless a homeless American today consumes twice as much energy as the average Global citizen." pg 197


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